Three weeks ago in my U.S. News column, I took aim at what I consider the most dysfunctional part of our political process, the presidential selection system. Turns out I'm not alone. Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia political guru, feels the same way. In his latest Crystal Ball, he says "we are courting disaster" in the 2008 presidential primaries. He provides a helpful but necessarily still tentative schedule. Earlier this week the National Association of Secretaries of State chimed in, reviving a plan it proposed before that puts the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary first, followed by four rounds of other states' voting. And today the Washington Post editorialized on the subject, endorsing the NASS plan.
I prefer the Delaware plan, which carves the primary process into four rounds, with the smallest states going first and the largest states last. It was considered but rejected at the 2000 Republican National Convention. I'm still looking for the part of the Constitution that says Iowa and New Hampshire come first. And I think it makes sense to have the largest states, instead of a random selection of states, vote in the fourth and last round, because no one can, at least technically, cinch the nomination until states with a majority of delegates have voted. That leaves more time for deliberation.
In any case, here's an excellent point made by the Post:
Regarding 2012, now is the time for both parties to get together on a reform. Because Republicans will set their rules for 2012 at the 2008 convention, the parties' consultation needs to happen soon.
Someone send the message to Mel Martinez and Howard Dean. And to the two parties' next nominees, whoever they may be.